Spontaneous past and future thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic across 14 countries: Effects of individual and country-level COVID-19 impact indicators

Scott Cole, Ioanna Markostamou, Lynn Ann Watson, Krystian Barzykowski, İrem Ergen, Andrea Taylor, Sezin Öner

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Abstract

In 2020, the world was amid a global health crisis—the COVID-19 pandemic. Nations had varying levels of morbidity and mortality and adopted different measures to prevent the spread of infection. Effects of the pandemic on spontaneous (rather than voluntary) past and future thoughts remain unexplored. Here, we report data from amulticountry online study examining how both country and individual-level factors are associated with this core aspect of human cognition. Results showed that national (stringency ofmeasures) and individual (attention to COVID-related information and worry) factors separately and jointly predicted the frequency of people’s pandemic-related spontaneous thoughts. Additionally, no typical positivity biaseswere found, as both past and future spontaneous thoughts had a negative emotional valence. This large-scale multinational study provides novel insights toward better understanding the emergence and qualities of spontaneous past and future thoughts. Findings are discussed in terms of the determinants and functions of spontaneous thought.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • Future thinking
  • Involuntary memory
  • Mental time travel
  • Spontaneous thought

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